McDonald’s has fired Steve Easterbrook as CEO and president of the global fast-food chain. In a statement released by McDonald’s on Sunday (November 3), the corporation explained he had been in a “consensual relationship” with an employee that violated the company policy. Easterbrook also sent an email to all employees admitting he made a “mistake” before stepping down from the position he’d held since 2015. Easterbrook had an eventful stint as head of the Big Mac giant. Earning hefty salaries until his ouster has brought his net worth to an estimated $39.7 million in 2019, which is likely to be affected now. It’s certainly worth looking at the career of the man who was named among the Innovative Leaders of 2019 by Forbes.
Steve Easterbrook Began Working at McDonald’s in 1993
Stephen Easterbrook was born on August 6, 1967 in England and studied natural sciences at St Chad’s College, Durham University. After college, he trained as an accountant at Price Waterhouse.
His first job at McDonald’s was in 1993, as a manager in London. Over the years, he’d make a mark in the Northern European sector of the corporation, becoming chief executive of McDonald’s U.K. in 2006.
At that time, 1,200 McDonald’s outlets in the U.K. had been underperforming. However, with an aggressive PR plan and the refurbishing of the look of the brand, he was able to restore McDonald’s declining sales.
Easterbrook later left McDonald’s in 2011, taking the helm at PizzaExpress and then Wagamama, two casual dining chains in the U.K.
Easterbrook Was Named CEO of McDonald’s in 2013
In 2013, McDonald’s was going through a slump in sales in the U.S. against its many competitors, and investors were frustrated by the leadership. Then-CEO Don Thompson took responsibility for the poor performance and stepped down from his position.
After a couple of years away from the Ronald McDonald empire, Easterbrook had joined the head office in Illinois as the chief brand officer. Following Thompson’s departure, he was named the new CEO and president of McDonald’s, while Thompson took on a consulting role worth $3.0 million.
As the new CEO, Easterbrook’s salary reportedly increased by 69.9% in 2015. Reports emerged that his salary that year was an estimated $7.91 million.
At a time when McDonald’s employees were fighting for an increase in wages, Easterbrook’s salary reportedly doubled in 2016 to a whopping $15.4 million. His salary got him ranked among the highest-paid CEOs in the world.
His compensation was apparently in line with his work of giving McDonald’s a technological facelift, but he nonetheless became a subject in the debate of executive pay vs. earnings of minimum wage employees. It further bristled McDonald’s employees when his salary was bumped up to over $21.7 million the following year.
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Easterbrook Was Fired for Violating Company Policy
The father of three reportedly divorced his first wife, whose identity is not known. Details of the couple’s split are also scarce. He later had a relationship with an employee at McDonald’s Corp.
McDonald’s released a statement on November 3, announcing that Easterbrook had a “recent consensual relationship with an employee,” thus violating company policy. The board determined he had “demonstrated poor judgment” and he was asked to step down as CEO and president of the McFamily.
— R-Willie (@RWillie6) November 4, 2019
“As for my departure, I engaged in a recent consensual relationship with an employee, which violated McDonald’s policy,” Easterbrook wrote in an email to employees. “This was a mistake. Given the values of the company, I agree with the board that it is time for me to move on. Beyond this, I hope you can respect my desire to maintain my privacy.”
He owned over 74,000 units of stock in the McD Corp worth $1.4 million. Chris Kempczinski, president of McDonald’s USA, will take over as CEO.